By Kitty Hinkle
“Sometimes we can be tricked into mixing up cleansing tears of grief from tears of self-pity and self-doubt fed by whispered lies from the enemy.”
It’s the habit that I’m focusing on today, and what to do about a habit. If you’re coming to us for the first time this week, begin with the part one of our posting on The Bout with Doubt- Part One: Occasional Wallow or Habit? After reading the introduction to the series, follow through each part of the series as we walk through the steps of eliminating the habit of anxiety.
Step one: Recognizing habitual tears (Tuesday’s posting)
Step two: Observing the habit (Wednesday’s posting)
Step Three: Replacing a habit with Truth (Thursday’s posting)
Step Four: Freedom to grieve honestly (Friday’s posting)
Now for Step One: Recognizing habitual tears
We all fall into patterns of response in our lives. A kid who goes through ridicule by the in-crowd might still grow up to be a healthy full functioning adult able to socialize and form great friendships, but when faced with a group of worldly handsome talkative individuals, he might find himself tongue-tied. This is simply a habit rooted in a bad experience from high school.
I remember finding myself in a pattern of anxious thinking after a year-long struggle to sell my home in 2003. I had four children at the time under the age of six. I kept my home flawlessly clean for showings—85 showings! Can you imagine scrubbing floors and baseboards and staging the furniture perfectly 85 times? All the while with toddlers and babies crawling about my feet and preschoolers tugging at my hem. The constant cycle of adrenaline—clean the house, show the house, wait in anticipation, receive disappointing news, get the call for the next showing—left me repeating a pattern of anxious thoughts that led to a habit. Once the house sold, the crisis was over. I figured no more anxiety, right? Wrong. My mind was so used to the pattern of anxiety repeating itself that it looked for something else to put in place of the house selling anxiety. I repeated the emotional cycle with everything from waiting for news on a medical test to waiting to hear from a friend who was deciding whether the book club I invited her to join was a good fit for her. Because the cycle of emotions were so practiced, I found even the trivial silly things like the book club decisions brought the most ridiculous level of anxiety. In noticing it, I identified it as a habit.
You can do the same with your tears. Just observe yourself as you cry. Notice whether the tears are cleansing you or digging you deeper into sadness. Sometimes we can be tricked into mixing up cleansing tears of grief from tears of self-pity and self-doubt fed by whispered lies from the enemy.
Only you and the Lord know if your pattern of grieving and bouts of tears have tipped beyond a healthy level, but if you find you might have developed a habit, don’t feel alone. It’s a common experience among those who’ve been through difficult events in their lives.
Come back tomorrow when I share with you what I learned about dealing with the habit self-doubt and anxiety.